Friday 30 May 2014

Now wash your hands please

The UK Government has formally conceded to the EU Commission that the Burry Inlet, the estuary between the Llanelli and north Gower Coasts, is seriously polluted by sewage. In Brussels lengthy infringement proceedings are attempting negotiation to correct the situation but the lack of any money to actually treat all the sewage from Llanelli means that all on offer as yet is a few swales [shallow ponds] to hold back an amount of rainwater and hopefully reduce the number of sewage "spills" [discharges lasting longer that 12 hours and/or containing tons of sewage - little spills don't officially count].

Welsh Water/Dwr Cymru also concede that even if they had the money to treat all the sewage from the town, the Loughor river is heavily polluted and its effluent from the Amman valley would still wash over this beach. Due to its geographical location, they say, the water quality will never be good.

  Locals have been aware of this pollution  for many years and the cockles have got into the habit of a mass extinction event every summer. That's just a coincidence, according to the authorities. The Welsh Government's Environment Agency {now National Resources Wales}, Welsh Water and Carmarthenshire County Council have made numerous misleading statements to play down the fact that in one corner of the developed world the local agencies are happy to tolerate sieved, but not treated, human excrement regularly washing along our beaches. The Millenium Coastal Park has all of its beaches affected by the toilet residue to some extent, and the park's vsitor centre at Llanelli beach is next to one of their most polluted beaches.

After many years of denial, a warning sign is now in place. At the top right hand of a large sign is a small paragraph warning that the water quality may be "poor" after heavy rain and advising hand washing before eating. Too high up to catch the eye, in small letters and no where near the cafe or ice cream bar, few are likely to notice. Even if the sign is read, how many would know what the "poor water quality" actually means? The estuary takes 6 tides to flush out sewerage spills, heavy rain is frequent here and the sluggish sewers retain the ground water for some days. I'd advise wearing plastic gloves if you really don't want to touch someone else's used E. Coli in this corner of West Wales.

Llanelli Beach - Gower peninsular in background. May 2014

 Detail of sign above.

The Council's Public Protection Department feel that this notice is adequate to deal with the situation. No specific warning or testing is required under the council's statutory responsibilities. Although this is an improvement on no warning at all, and the years of lies and declarations that the water was clean, its clearly not adequate.

All Llanelli Beach users, please wash your hands, as the Welsh Government, Local authority and our Water Company have certainly washed their hands of any responsibility for this threat to your health and well being!

Councillor Sian Caiach

1 comment:

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